On the morning of the 28th, I left Prague fairly early and headed to Pilsen and after stopping off briefly at my accommodation, I got to the zoo just before 12.
After arriving at the zoo, I then bought a ticket and went around to the administration building (located just outside the zoo) to meet up with a person who I had contacted prior to my visit (thanks to various peoples’ suggestions at the beginning of this thread) for a tour of the off show areas. This lasted almost two and a half hours and I probably could have spent longer if I wanted to.
I’m not going to discuss the off show areas (I haven’t uploaded pictures of anything off show either) and it would be unfair to critique a part of the zoo that isn’t supposed to be visible to the public.
After that, I started to look at the on show areas of the zoo and began with the Africa house/Africa by Night
(as it is signed on the map). This building has a huge assortment of rarities including Chequered Elephant Shrew, Cape Foxe, Hausa Genet, Saharan Striped Weasel etc. some of the enclosures are a bit on the small side but most were pretty good. Sadly, I was staying about 40 minutes’ drive from the zoo, and there was no way the rest of my family would get up early enough to get to the zoo for opening, so I didn’t manage to get to the zoo while the lights were still on in the nocturnal area so was unable to photograph most of the animals held here, but never mind.
I didn’t have that much time left on my first day since it wasn’t a full day at the zoo and I had spent quite a while in the off show areas, so I decided to look at the side of the zoo that I was already on which is the left hand side of the above map (the Eastern side of the zoo). The Australia
section was quite nicely done with a nice lake area which also had plenty of space around it for the larger species such as Emus and Kangaroos .
And there was some authentic looking theming such as signs, termite mounds, aboriginal art etc. around the Australia
section. There were also a few smaller enclosures containing unusual animals such as Pademelons etc. (as well as some very well hidden enclosures near this area which are only visible if you go to the toilet).
After looking around the Australia
section, I had a look around the Gondwana
area. Most of the zoo is divided up geographically (though within each geographic region there didn’t seem to be any particular organisation of things) and the Gondwana
area seemed to be a place to put everything that didn’t fit into its own area. In this area is a Humboldt Penguin enclosure, an enclosure for a mix of waterfowl including flamingos, and the Tropical Pavilion.
The tropical Pavilion is comprised of a seemingly random mixture of taxa from tropical areas. There is a row of outdoor aviaries with indoor areas as well for Philippine birds (and three mammal species – Palawan Porcupines, Palawan Leopard Cats, and Southern Giant Cloud Rats), an enclosure for Chimpanzees, an enclosure for Red-handed Tamarins, an Enclosure for Ring-tailed Lemurs and Giant Tortoises, a tank with Green Pufferfish, some amphibians, some invertebrates and quite a few reptiles. The Zoo doesn’t have a reptile house (though there is the AkvaTera terrarium which I didn’t have time to visit in the end) however there is still a considerable reptile collection spread amongst a few different buildings around the zoo. The Tropical Pavilion held a few large monitors and snakes as well as smaller snakes, Komodo Dragons, and both Siamese Crocodiles and Smooth-snouted Caimans.
A lot of the enclosures in this building seemed small and a bit boring looking such as the indoor bird areas though some of the snake enclosures were very nice and there were lots of cool displays and educational signage.
After the Gondwana
Area, I decided to head up (literally ‘up’ as this was actually going up a slope) to the Asian Islands
and Asian Garden
areas which is what a lot of zoos call a pheasantry and holds the zoos amazing collection of cold climate (mostly) birds.
All around this area was a lot of nice planting and garden areas – which you would expect since this is Plzen Zoo and
Botanical Gardens – so the area was very nice and peaceful. The bird islands consist of Hexagonal buildings, each divided into two indoor areas, each with an outdoor area and holding around five or six species and there is also a small rodent enclosure set into one of the walls of each building (and in one case a snake enclosure).
Particular highlights in these enclosures included Azure Tits, Siberian Rubythroats, Sulawesi Tarictic Hornbills and lots more, as well as 12 different subspecies of common pheasant.
Sadly, I wasn’t able to see all of the Bird Islands enclosures there and then because a few of them were included within the DinoPark
area for some reason, which requires an additional ticket which I hadn’t bought that day.
I still had an hour left on my first day at the zoo, however it was already beginning to get dark so all of the areas that I looked at in that hour, I revisited the next day to look at properly and get some pictures.
The next day, I started by going the opposite way around the zoo as I did the previous day and went to the Africa
area. First I checked to see if the lights were still on in the Africa by Night
house – they were not – and then I went to the Madagascar
This was a very nice area with a fantastic range of species including 10 species of lemur, a few other mammal species, quite a few reptiles and some fish. The enclosures weren’t huge but most were fine and many also had outdoor areas. One thing that I thought was quite cool is that the different enclosure were signed for different areas of Madagascar where (I assume) the animals within were from such as Kirindy, Masoala, Ifaty etc.
Another quite cool feature was the walkthrough Ring-tailed Lemur island which was a standard Ring-tailed Lemur island with a path going over it, however the interesting thing was that the barrier for the lemurs seemed to be simply a metal bridge that people could walk over as if there was nothing holding the lemurs in (but of course it was constructed in a way that prevents lemurs crossing it).
I then continued to the main part of the Africa
Area (path along the bottom of the map). Here there were a few aviaries including a large waterfowl aviary and various other exhibits including some rather large paddocks for African Hoofstock. There were also enclosures for Cheetah, Warthogs, etc. and a Pygmy Hippo Exhibit which also had an island for Colobus Monkeys, various Pelicans and other waterfowl and a very nice aviary with small tropical birds with Blue-headed Wood-doves being a particular highlight. The path then went from the Africa
Area to an Asian Themed Area with a few large paddocks for Asian Species including Kiang, Kulan, Indian Rhino, Bactrian Camels Goitered Gazelle, etc. as well as Lion-tailed Macaques and some bird aviaries. Between these two areas is the Afro-asian Pavilion
which holds the Indoor areas for Indian Rhino and Various African Hoofstock as well as a few smaller enclosures for Hyraxes, Ground Squirrels, a small nocturnal section and various Reptile and Insect species.
I then continued on to Explore the Western part of the zoo (the left hand side of the map). There isn’t really one route going around allowing you to see everything and – as with the rest of the zoo – the area is organised geographically so I will go through area by area. The European Area (with a small American area containing Musk Ox and Prairie Dogs) goes along the Western side of the zoo and has a few very nice enclosures such as a large wooded enclosure for Brown Bears with a very steep path going alongside it (there are actually quite a few steep paths around the zoo).
There is also a reconstruction of an Iron Age Village with bee hives, signage etc. and various other nice enclosures including one for Wolves and one for Bison.
Further along from the European area is an area for domestic animals called the Luftnerka Farmhouse
This area has a few enclosures on a slope for some domestic hoofstock and a farmyard type area pictured below with various farmyard animals like pigeons, ducks, chickens, rabbits, etc.
There is also a café area and displays of a traditional farmhouse and displays of farm equipment such as old tractors etc.
Along the side of the farmyard area there is the fantastic Czech River
. This has lots of nice outdoor tanks for various native fish species which go along the path with water connecting them making it look like a river. There is also a very large tank with a lot of big fish such as Wels Catfish and there is also an enclosure for European Otters. The area is very nicely done with some pretty cool fish and nice tanks.
Also around the Luftnerka Farmhouse
are the Far East
This includes an enclosure for Siberian tigers as well as enclosures for Snow Leopards and Chinese Goral, both of which also have viewing from above from around the farmyard area. And further along from the Himalayas
Area are the large North American and South American Areas. The South America area has the usual South American paddock with Rheas, Capybara and Vicuna, and all the usual South American animals (Maned Wolves, Collared Peccaries, Coati – though subspecies solitaria which was cool) as well as the Amazonia
House which I rather liked. The Amazonia
house holds mainly Marmosets and Tamarins (seven species) as well as Armadillos, Night Monkeys and Prehensile-tailed Porcupines with a rather nice walkthrough enclosure with White-tufted-ear Marmosets, Bolivian Night Monkeys and Prehensile-tailed Porcupines though sadly it was too cold for any of them to be out.
The North American Area also has a few particularly nice areas including a very nice Woodchuck Enclosure, a nice paddock for Tule Elk and the very nice Sonora house which holds a mixture of small mammals and birds, reptiles, fish, invertebrates, and amphibians.
I then went to the DinoPark
to see the few bird enclosures located within since I now had an appropriate ticket. I didn’t spend too long looking at the dinosaurs but there are lots of large life-size dinosaur models, many of which made noises and some had moving parts.
There is also a cinema type thing showing a film about dinosaurs but I just went in to look at the birds held there, many of which being quite rare and unusual species, though the fact that I had to pay for a DinoPark
ticket to see some birds which I thought should be covered by the zoo ticket annoyed me a bit.
One other highlight while I was in the DinoPark
was seeing a wild Weasel pop its head out from between some rocks before being scared away by some children.
I had by this point seen pretty much everything and I had just over two hours left in the zoo so I went around to tie up some loose ends of little bits that I had missed. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to see everything without some doubling back and there are a lot different paths so I had missed bits here and there. A notable area that I had missed was the Underground World
which is cave-themed with lots of smaller exhibits including bats and invertebrates and also has a small historical museum area. The semi-off show Amphibian Ark (there is viewing through windows) is also located in this area.
Another thing that I went to at this point was the Mediteraneum which is a nice Mediterranean greenhouse with lots of Meditarranean plants and various reptiles and fish. I then had return visits to a few areas including the Africa by Night
house to look for the Chequered Elephant Shrews which I had missed the previous two times (and managed to see this time) before leaving the zoo. I also went to the Succulents
building but sadly this was closed for re-planting (there were lots of boxes of cacti and succulent plants stacked up by the door).
Overall then, a fantastic zoo. The collection is vast with a huge number of rarities and although there are a few enclosures that aren’t great, there are also a lot of very nice enclosures. Even with almost two days in the zoo, I could have spent longer in certain areas that I had to rush a little bit and planting all around the zoo is really good as well.
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